It was another hard run today.
This time I ate dinner first and fought the lack of inertia to stay on the couch reading a fantasy book about a beauty and beast retelling. “It’s just two miles today,” I told myself. Worn out from the constant sticky, sick-state July has been putting me into both physically and emotionally each daily run felt like it was getting progressively harder. “You’re almost there,” I told myself as I looked at the end of the month on the calendar; as if the end of the month would herald new beginnings and a fresh start.
After 8pm, the run was cooler than the previous day’s fourth mile escapade and I was grateful for that piece at least. Rounding into the last half of my second mile, I saw two crows. They kept cawing and cawing as if they were trying to get my attention. I slowed down and looked at the grass below.
Less than three inches away from the blacktop was a baby crow. It was a fledgling from the looks of things. The tubes were still stuck around its feathers and it looked to be nearly ready to start thinking about flying. It looked up at me and blinked, then slowly turned away from me to mosey into the ditch. I was worried that it was going to get hit by a car. So I picked it up and cradled it in my elbow while resting it on my chest. The two crows on the power lines above started kicking up a ruckus.
“Let me get you someplace safe,” I told it. Then I looked up at the parents, “Come follow me.”
And they did.
I was halfway home when they abandoned me and the baby. I turned around, seeking them out in the sky, but it was as if they had just disappeared. I got this sinking feeling in my stomach, wondering if they’d given up on the safety of their little one. I trudged back the remainder of the way with the little one sleeping in the crook of my arm.
I called into the open door of my neighbor. I asked her for a box and said, I was going to see about taking the baby crow to the wildlife rescue. Lauren, ever the knower of more practical things than me, said, “You might have been better leaving it where it was. Crows are considered a pest bird and they might not even do much but put it out in a nest to see if it survives.”
I stood there stunned, thinking about how it was just inches from the road and that I had picked it up to carry it to safety. I thanked her for her box and said that I would research things on the ever-informative internet.
My two pups were definitely interested in the little bird I carried into our home in a box. But the calls of the backyard were too strong, and a sleeping baby bird in a box on a counter isn’t enough to hold the attention of a dog not much taller than a foot. So I looked online.
“Are the parents around?” one questionnaire asked.
I felt my heart stuck in my throat. From the reading I was doing, the parents likely kicked it out of the nest and were watching it. Their calls weren’t for help. They were to warn me away and tell the little one to run for cover. So in the hopes that I was moving it to a safer location, it’s entirely likely that I orphaned it.
I tucked it back in the box and took my car back to the place where I found it. I set the box on the ground waiting to see if the little crow would run off and hide. But she just sat there looking up at me with sleepy eyes. The parents were nowhere to be seen and I wondered if they had gone off elsewhere to roost where it was safer at night. I felt the cascade of guilt and disgust at myself.
I had the best of intentions. Without even thinking I scooped it up thinking I would save her. And I likely did the worst thing I could have possibly done. I felt sick.
So tomorrow I’ll drive back to the spot and look for the parents. Barring that, I may take her to the wildlife rescue where she might live out the rest of her short little life. With just a small bit of knowledge I went from the hero in my head to the villain. I’m sorry little crow. I’m so sorry.